London's Feminist Library Faces Closure

By Zoe Craig Last edited 50 months ago
London's Feminist Library Faces Closure

The Feminist Library in Waterloo faces eviction from the council building that's housed it for the last 30 years.

The library, home to an extensive collection of feminist literature, says Southwark council is seriously threatening its future by demanding an increase in rent from £12,000 to £30,000 a year.

The organisation launched a petition last week, asking Southwark Council to withdraw its notice to evict them from the Westminster Bridge Road premises on 1 March and to 'gradually implement the proposed threefold rent increase'.

The volunteer-run library comprises an extensive archive of feminist material including thousands of books, periodicals, pamphlets, papers and posters, and hosts a range of events and exhibitions. It's been looking for a new home for a few months now, but has struggled to find suitable premises.

Local resident Minna Haukka, says, "I’ve been devastated to hear that we might be losing this unique cultural organisation. The Feminist Library is just what we need to hold on to in the Elephant and Castle area right now. It’s not only a valuable historical archive, it's a very much alive and passionate community that Southwark should support and be proud of."

Councillor Fiona Colley says, "Whilst we recognise and appreciate the fantastic work done by the library, we have a very clear duty to ensure our assets are being managed responsibly and fairly, and that we are being fair to other tenants who are paying open-market rent. The... new rent levels... reflect what other organisations in the building are paying.

"At a time when the council's funding from government is being cut by £47m we are simply unable to continue to subsidise their rent."

While libraries across the city are facing difficult times ahead, the potential closure of the Feminist Library does seem to fit with a troubling trend for women's organisations in London: the Lambeth Women's Project, Peckham Black Women's Centre and the London Irish Women's Centre have all closed in the last few years.

Last Updated 22 February 2016

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